UP stuns La Salle behind Desiderio’s outburst
University of the Philippines pulled off an absolute stunner, silencing defending champion De La Salle, 98-87, in the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball tournament Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Paul Desiderio caught fire for the Fighting Maroons and unleashed a career-high 30 points, 18 of which came from beyond the arc, along with six rebounds, and five assists to lead UP.
The Fighting Maroons tacked their second consecutive win and third overall to improve to 3-1 while the Green Archers lost for the first time this season and slipped to the same card.
Head coach Bo Perasol admitted that he was intimidated going against a team like La Salle, who has reigning MVP Ben Mbala.
“I may be a little bit shamed to admit this but in the days coming over to this game my thoughts really were that we’ll be going up against a powerhouse team and I was already thinking what good we could get from this,” said Perasol in Filipino. “If we lose, what will we get from this?”
“Then I read Jun’s [Manzo] tweet that said ‘nothing’s impossible to a person who believes’ and I got ashamed because my players believed we could compete against a powerhouse.”
And compete the Fighting Maroons did.
Manzo scored five straight points for UP with his booming triple giving the Fighting Maroons an 86-77 lead with 3:07 to go.
The rookie guard then came up with another big play with 52.8 seconds remainin, scoring on a break away layup for UP’s 90-79 lead.
Manzo finished with 17 points to help UP’s cause with the Gomez de Liaño brothers of Javi and Juan putting up 10 points apiece.
Ben Mbala had a game-high 34 points with 12 rebounds to lead the Green Archers.
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